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Check your family's diet for these health hazards

Audubon - Seton Center January 28, 2014 Wellness Articles

Some foods raise your risk for major diseases, while others save the day by preventing them. Here’s what to skip—and what to stock up on.

“Dietary changes are often underused as a tool in medical treatment,” says Graham Vigliotta, DO, primary care physician at Main Line HealthCare Internal Medicine in Audubon. “Just as our diet can be viewed as being at fault in the face of vascular disease, diabetes, and obesity, we should make a greater effort to look at diet for the good it can do.”

Diabetes

AVOID: Soda
For each serving of sugary beverages , your risk for diabetes increases about 13 percent. Corn syrup and similar sweeteners boost your weight and interfere with insulin levels.

CONSUME: Coffee
Regular or decaf, each cup lowers diabetes risk about eight percent. Antioxidants or similar compounds may explain the link.

Heart disease

AVOID: Fast food
It’s low in nutrients and high in calories and fat. Eating fast food regularly has been linked to both developing and dying of heart disease.

CONSUME: Mediterranean diet
Focus on olive oil, nuts, fresh fruits and veggies, and fish. In a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, people who ate this way were about 30 percent less likely to have or die of a heart attack or stroke than those who didn’t.

Breast cancer

AVOID: Alcohol
About 15 percent of cancer deaths in the country can be blamed on booze, note researchers in the American Journal of Public Health. Even moderate drinking may affect levels of estrogen, a hormone that influences breast cancer risk.

CONSUME: Flaxseed
Women who eat more flax have an 18 percent lower risk for breast cancer. The seed is rich in lignans, plant estrogens that block the effects of natural estrogen on cancer cells.

Colorectal cancer

AVOID: Red and processed meats
The risk of colorectal cancer is greater if you consume more than 18 ounces of red meat weekly. Cancer-causing compounds form in the cooking and preservation process.

CONSUME: Vegetables
People who ate the most broccoli, bok choy, and similar foods had an 18 percent lower risk of developing colorectal cancer in one recent analysis. These veggies contain fiber and cancer-fighting compounds called glucosinolates.